A new Mountain Green planning commission has hit a snag.
“We can have an advisory panel, but we cannot have a planning commission” in Mountain Green, Morgan County Council Chairman Ned Mecham said.
At their Sept. 19 meeting, the Morgan County Council voted 4-3 to create a second planning commission in Mountain Green. Council members Daryl Ballantyne, John Barber, Tina Cannon and Robert Kilmer voted to establish the county’s second planning commission at that meeting.
However, soon after that vote, a state legislator brought it to County Attorney Jann Farris’s attention that earlier this year, state law allowing more than one planning commission in a single county had recently changed. “This changed five months ago,” he said.
Farris said Weber and Summit County’s second planning commissions, both established before the law change, were grandfathered in.
“Current code is to have only one. There can only ever be one planning commission in a county,” Farris said. “Now we are saying we messed up. If is all of our faults.”
On Nov. 7, the council’s agenda included rescinding the Sept. 19 vote. Last week the council deadlocked in a 3-3 vote to rescind the original September vote. Ballantyne, Barber and Cannon voted against overturning the original vote. Kilmer was not present.
But Farris said that doesn’t mean Morgan County can’t have a “planning advisory area planning commission” in Mountain Green. According to state code, such a body shall consist of seven members appointed by the county council and serving four-year terms.
“I don’t want to tell the good people of Mountain Green we screwed up, violated state law,” Turner said. “We need the people down there” in Mountain Green to “go out with petitions” and start the involved process of establishing a planning advisory area.
“It is similar to a referendum and voter initiative,” Farris said. “Citizens will need to complete the requirements listed in the state code for this to move any further. The process is complicated and is similar to a petition to incorporate a city.”
To establish a planning advisory area in an unincorporated area of the county, a petition must be signed by land owners representing at least 10 percent of the total private land area and value of all private real property within the proposed planning advisory area. This petition must be filed with the county clerk and accompanied by a list of five petition sponsors as well as an accurate map showing the boundaries of the proposed contiguous area. Those petition sponsors can request that the council provide a public hearing within 90 days and bring the issue to voters in the area during the next regular general election cycle.